Hot And Cold Potatoes

I was rather struck by something in a comment by Jax, written in response to something I’d written:

I’ve never really understood why first David Cameron and then Theresa May have continued to support a smoking ban that most Conservative MPs voted against.

And she replied:

I think they recognise that smoking is one of those “hot potato” political issues which invoke very strong feelings from both sides and so they are doing what politicians always do – taking the easy option – and simply ignoring it.

Is smoking a ‘hot potato’ political issue? Oddly enough, I’d just been thinking the exact opposite. I’d been thinking about how there was no mention of smokers or smoking bans in the mainstream media. It’s not a subject of discussion. I get the impression that for most non-smokers – and in fact a great many smokers – the UK smoking ban is pretty much past history, a bit like The Battle of Britain or the Norman Conquest. Many of them probably don’t even remember in what year it was enacted. In short, it was a very cold potato.

Of course, for me (and for many of my readers) it remains a very, very hot potato indeed. In my case, it marked my complete and comprehensive expulsion from society. I’m never going to forget it. And I imagine that many of my readers won’t ever forget it either. But just because it’s a hot potato for us doesn’t mean that it’s a hot potato for anyone else. Why should it be a hot potato for non-smokers who were almost completely unaffected by it? All they ever noticed (if they noticed it at all) was that the pubs and cafes and restaurants became a lot less smoky one day. And also a lot less full. They might have approved of both developments – although in my experience most non-smokers never gave a damn about smoking: antismokers have always been a small minority.

But if the antismokers have always been a small minority, they have been a highly vocal and highly active minority. And once they’d kicked all the smokers out of pubs and restaurants, they set out to kick them out of everywhere else as well. Their very latest attempt has been to get smoking banned in prisons (exempted in the 2006 Health Act). The antismokers have continued to completely dominate the debate about smoking and tobacco, 10 years after they got a comprehensive smoking ban enacted. There’s always somewhere where smoking is still allowed – prisons, parks, beaches, cars -, and these places provide them with targets against which they can campaign.

Pretty much all the “strong feelings” are on the side of the antismokers. They never stop. And they will never stop until the last smoker, and the last tobacco plant, have been driven from the face of the Earth. The smokers are always in retreat. First from the buses and trains, then from the cinemas and theatres, then from the pubs and restaurants and cafes, now from the prisons and parks and hospitals. Nobody speaks for them. Nobody at all.

When was the last time any politician ever said anything about smoking?  When was the last time that David Cameron or Theresa May or any of the rest of them made any remark, for or against?

Nigel Farage, bless him, did speak up. But the EU, not smoking, was his principal concern. And he didn’t mention it very often.

I spend quite a lot of time listening to US right wing talk radio these days. But they never mention smoking either. I have never heard smoking get mentioned a single time on Alex Jones’ Infowars. I only ever heard it mentioned once by Michael Savage (someone regarded as so horribly subversive that he’s not allowed to enter Britain). They’ll talk about the Clintons and the Bushes and the Pelosis and the Schumers. They’ll talk about the latest sexual harassment scandals. They’ll talk about immigration. They’ll talk about ISIS and Al Qaeda. They’ll even talk about the EU from time to time. But smoking? Never.

Of course I mention it. I mention it almost every day. But I’m nobody. I only get heard by my few very dear readers. I don’t get heard anywhere else. So I don’t count.

Even when I occasionally mention the smoking ban to other smokers that I encounter by chance, usually in pub gardens in summer, I’m usually met with dead silence. Because it’s something they never talk about either. It’s a forbidden topic. For they like to maintain the pretence that nothing really changed with the smoking ban, and that life carried on as normal. You’d think that they were only sitting outside in the English summer rain because that’s what they liked doing, and it was their own free choice.

The simple truth of the matter is that the antismokers in Tobacco Control have managed to stampede more or less everyone across the entire world into antismoking conformity. Nobody is allowed to ever dare say that they like smoking, or put in a good word for smokers, without shrieks and howls of outrage. It’s Politically Incorrect to be pro-smoking. It’s Politically Incorrect to be anything other than virulently antismoking. It is, to use one of their favourite terms, “unacceptable” to have anything other than one single approved opinion about not only smoking, but an ever-increasing range of other topics as well.

And the politicians and the mainstream media have been stampeded along with everyone else. And the antismokers are always trying to keep the stampede going, by continually ramping up fear of tobacco (and now of course vaping) to ever higher levels, and continually pushing hard for new antismoking measures. And now they’re gradually extending their interests beyond smoking, to alcohol, sugar, fast foods, and so on.

I think that in due course it will change. I think that the rise of the political right in the USA and Britain and Europe is part of a growing revolt against the nannying – no, bullying – climate of the times. I think that people are gradually digging in their heels in all sorts of small ways, many of them entirely unrelated to smoking. I think people are gradually getting sick of being told how to live their lives, and what they can and can’t say, what they should and shouldn’t think. Because if they don’t, they’ll only be bullied and blackmailed and stampeded even more. If they don’t push back, it’ll only get worse. They may not want to push back, but in the end they’re going to have to.

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About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to Hot And Cold Potatoes

  1. Rose says:

    It’s still a very hot potato with the police and customs and presumably the Treasury, every day there are seizures of illicit tobacco, there are so many I no longer bother to post them. It’s like the Wild West out there, or more accurately the days of Prohibition.

    More than 30,000 illicit cigarettes seized in Staffordshire
    http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/more-30000-illicit-cigarettes-seized-950683

    Thousands of counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol turned into electricity
    http://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/local-news/thousands-counterfeit-cigarettes-alcohol-turned-951181

    £25,000 worth of illicit cigarettes and tobacco seized from three Scunthorpe premises
    http://www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/news/scunthorpe-news/25000-worth-illicit-cigarettes-tobacco-950088

    Illicit cigarettes and tobacco seized in Tamworth shop raids
    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/illicit-cigarettes-tobacco-seized-tamworth-14057301

    Romanian pair caught smuggling 9,000 cigarettes into Yorkshire
    https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/news/romanian-pair-caught-smuggling-9-000-cigarettes-into-yorkshire-1-8917691

    Seaham and Blackhall raids net 77,000 counterfeit cigarettes
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-42383914

    But it’s been a quiet week so far.

  2. Pingback: The left can’t tolerate old battles being revived – Hector Drummond

  3. Smoking bans are a cold potato, as you say. They’re part of the fabric of society now. But anyone who dares try to overturn them will find themselves roasting in hell. Leftists will sometimes, for expediency’s sake, taken a softly-softly approach to changing things as they are now, in order not to frighten the horses. If they’re a politican they may even pretend that they don’t support the change (eg. as many leftist politicians did a few years back on gay marriage).

    But try to change course on something that they thought was done and dusted, and all hell breaks loose. This is why Brexit has caused such a storm with the left. They thought increasing integration into supranational entities was a done deal, it was a battle they thought had been won, ancient history, and the alternative should not even be thought of, hell, should not even be conceived of, any more. It’s like reaching a checkoff-point in a computer game — no matter how many times you subsequently die, you never go back beyond that point.

    This is all part of their modus operandi – they can tolerate tussles for a few years over their latest battle, but once that battle has been won, there is no going back. The public must never be allowed to see that ‘advances’ the left have won can be reversed, because then they might start to think that maybe other things that were set in stone can be reversed too.

    The left don’t want you even to conceive of things being different. This is how it’s been since Lenin. It’s why they’re so keen on thought control. People who don’t conceive of alternatives won’t fight for them, because who is going to fight for a cause they never think of?

    So the greatest sin that can be committed, in the eyes of a leftist, is for someone with some power or a following to bring an old battle back into play again. That’s why even people who had previously seemed nice and relaxed and sensible suddenly start acting like unhinged, foaming-at-the-mouth loons when something like Brexit happens. They were happy before because the future looked like going their way. Take that assurance away and their true colours show.

    So if Theresa May was to seriously talk of overturning the smoking ban she would be quickly be reduced to a smouldering pile of ashes. Not just the leftists, but at least half the Conservative party would rise up and smite her, leaving only a small, smoking pile of ashes. And that’s why you’ve been hearing nothing from her on the subject.

  4. Rhys says:

    Somewhat on topic, I was reading an article yesterday about the new anti-smoking adverts tobacco companies are now compelled by law to run on US television. They had some samples, and many of them focussed on second-hand smoke, of which there is no safe level to be exposed to, it causes as many diseases as smoking does (all of them now, apparently), and how it kills 38,000 Americans per year. We all know where that number came from. It’s pretty obvious these scripts were written by tobacco control.

    It linked, however, to an article about how smoking causes all the cancers, but obesity is rapidly catching up to it.

    These people are never, ever, ever going to stop. If they couldn’t be inquisitors, I’m fairly certain they’d find no purpose in life.

  5. Clicky says:

  6. Mark Jarratt, Changi Airportrport, Singapore says:

    Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Australian Liberal Democrats speaks up for smokers, and against petty illiberal social engineering in general. That’s why I donate to the LDP, who are gaining more support daily.
    At Changi airport there are many smoking ghettos, including a fairly well appointed outdoor rooftop cactus garden, with cocktails. There’s also an acceptable smoker ghetto at Colombo airport, Sri Lanka. Contrast that with the absence of any airside approved smoking ghettos at SYD airport, hyper regulated to extinction by puritanical d1ckheads at both federal and state level, although departed and transit passengers are legally not within the Australian jurisdiction. I wrote to SYD airport management pointing out the total absence of client service or accommodation for the 20% or so of travelling adults who choose to be tobacco consumers. Response was ‘we are unable to provide smoking facilities meeting safety and security requirements’ – how surprising, if you have government approval to ignore and marginalize a significant minority of citizens their needs or wants are invisible. I will write to the d1ckheads again when I return although that’s likely to be wasted effort – don’t give up. Some considerate individual left 4 packets of various brands in one of the Changi smoking ghetto areas, and this in Singapore, not exactly renowned for its liberalism.🚬

    • nisakiman says:

      I flew to Australia in 2002, so fifteen years ago, and my flight was from KL to Adelaide. The flight went via Melbourne, where it stopped to refuel and for some passengers to disembark – a couple of hours stopover if I recall. The flight from KL to Melbourne having been nine hours or so, I got off the plane to stretch my legs and find somewhere to have a much needed cigarette. To my utter astonishment, there was nowhere in the airport to have a smoke. I asked a cleaning lady where there was a smoking room, and she told me that smoking was banned throughout the airport, with a $600 fine for transgressors! And this, as I say, was 15 years ago. I couldn’t believe it.

      As for unable to provide smoking facilities meeting safety and security requirements, what a crock of shit. How much trouble is it to provide a room with ventilation and ashtrays? Most other airports seem to manage. No, it’s a policy born of spite, pure and simple. There is NO good reason not to provide facilities for smokers at airports.

      As an off-topic aside, that flight was with Malaysia Airlines (an excellent airline IMO), and after embarking and being seated for the return leg in Adelaide, a small, middle-aged Sikh appeared at the front of the cabin with a microphone, and introduced himself as the captain, giving us a few bits of info about the flight to come, and a couple of nuggets of advice (like ‘don’t drink too much alcohol because it will dehydrate you’). It’s the only time I’ve seen a captain actually come to the cabin to give his little pre-flight speech – it’s generally just a disembodied voice over the speaker system. It was a nice touch, and inspired confidence in the guy who was flying the plane.

      • Mark Jarratt, Launceston, Australia says:

        Well done and thanks! Yes a bullying policy borne of spite. Government should never be in the business of empowering bullies. If smoking ghettos of any kind are available at Australian airports they’re invariably down the street, across the road, around the corner, down a back alley next to the dumpsters. These morons censor reality and must be bluntly told to return to their own conformist smoke free utopia – they’re the ones who should be ghettoed. Disgraceful hypocrisy when government doesn’t own the atmosphere and aircraft emissions are so much higher and potentially hazardous than wisps of diluted tobacco smoke. These are the same onanists who simultaneously claim smoking is more addictive than heroin (utter tripe) yet expect trembling ashen (ASH?) faced ‘addicts’ to easily tolerate long haul flight smoking bans. Walking both sides of the street, having cake and eating it!🍰

    • RdM says:

      Yes, Auckland City Council has been considering the idea of allowing a few spots (literally, on a map) for smokers, while banning it in the CBD, and I thought of the acronym starter, Government Havens Enabling Taking Tobacco Outdoors ( or Outside).

    • RdM says:

      I experienced that quite wonderful rooftop area in Changi airport in 2004, a couple of hours between flight changes to Europe, at midnight, bought beers, smoked cigs etc.
      Thanks for the memory!

  7. roobeedoo2 says:

    One for the graveyard, Frank:

    ‘A Russian man was brutally murdered by his room-mate after his smoking habit became too much for the killer.

    ‘Eduard Assylov, a 37-year-old motor mechanic, was stabbed to death and his head, limbs and genitals chopped off with a knife.

    ‘His roommate confessed to the crime and said that had become fed up with Assylov’s smoking, and had eventually ‘gone berserk’ when the mechanic lit up in their home.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5202221/Non-smoker-hacks-room-mates-penis-smoking.html

  8. I think your analysis rhymes well with the words of late German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who said back in 2012 that he believed that “smoking bans are a fashion which will be forgotten in twenty years time.”

    Let’s pray you and him are correct, which, considering the waning support for nannies and busybodies everywhere in the West, does seem very likely. We’re witnessing the end of something, and one of these things is gonna be Anti-smoking hysteria..

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